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Color Barrier: Segregation Images Resonate 60 Years On

Quiet moments from everyday life in segregated Alabama speak loudly almost 60 years later.

Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

Gordon Parks' photographs of the Jim Crow South show ordinary moments tainted with markings of racial discrimination. The images immediately resonated in 1956 with a culture eager for change after they were published as a photo essay in Life magazine, engaging Americans through the familiar lens of family life.

Growing up in poverty and segregation in Kansas, Parks developed a commitment to documenting social issues as soon as he picked up a camera. He began his career working for the Farm Security Administration, following in the steps of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Arthur Rothstein. Parks then became the first African American staff photographer at Life magazine, continuing to record the injustices caused by racism and inequality.

Throughout history, powerful images have inspired action. Parks' quiet images of daily life in Alabama moved the country and helped propel the civil rights movement, and now offer a critical documentation of the history of racism in America. Violent images and video of police brutality launched today's "Black Lives Matter" movement, reminding us that while progress has been made, racial tensions remain one of our country's greatest challenges.

Segregation Story by Gordon Parks is currently on view at Salon 94 in New York City until January 17 and opens at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago on January 8.

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-shopping, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Willie Causey and Family, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Department Store, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

In-Home Barbershop, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York

Store Front, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

The Gordon Parks Foundation / Courtesy Salon 94, New York